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Hawley Silk Mill Solar System Takes PA Landmark Back to the Future

November 15, 2010 by Kathleen Maier in Solar Stories with 0 Comments

Hawley, PA – The Hawley Silk Mill is getting back to basics in a cutting edge fashion, with the use of technology along with the power of nature. When Real Goods Solar (formerly Alteris Renewables) recently installed 206 solar panels on the historic 1880 structure’s rooftop, it marked a return of the building’s use of alternative energy.

Hawley Silk Mill's solar PV installationThe PA landmark was originally powered by hydroelectric and hydro-mechanical power, and the Silk Mill project executive Troy Bystrom explains, “Our vision is to return the building to its original state of energy independence, as it was in the 1880s. One of the ways we’re doing that is by installing our 48kW solar photovoltaic array.”

The Hawley Silk Mill solar energy system will offset 20-30% of the building’s utility bill by producing over 58,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity annually. Bystrom says that the building had been a silk mill for over 50 years, and was once used as a textile mill, antique, retail and wholesale space throughout its life. With the completion of this renovation, it will now be house medical offices and retail shops, as well as an annex of Lackawanna College.

U.S. Congressman Chris CarneyU.S. Congressman Chris Carney (pictured left with Real Goods Solar’s James Albert) was in attendance of the Silk Mill’s solar commissioning, and he “flipped the switch” to connect the system to the grid. During the ceremony he told the crowds, “When you can preserve the largest bluestone building in the world, turn it into one of the most modern and efficiently run buildings in the world, educate people and conduct commerce at the same time, who would not support that?”

Ben Keim, a solar contractor out of Real Goods Solar’s Malvern, PA office, says that the Hawley Silk Mill is leading by example by making it a priority to reduce their carbon footprint and to improve their bottom line. “More and more businesses and homeowners are taking a hard look at their energy costs and the Silk Mill is an example of how you can make a difference both economically and environmentally,” Keim explains. “With solar incentives like the Tier One Sunshine Grant, Power Purchase Agreements and the 30% Federal Tax Credit, there are a number of opportunities for Pennsylvania businesses and homeowners to get help financing renewable energy projects.”

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